Australia

MH17 Ukraine disaster: Australia holds memorial service

A mother and her two children pin flowers to a wreath in memory of MH17 victims, Canberra, 17 July 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Families of the Australians lost in the crash pin sprigs of wattle to a wreath

Australia has held a memorial service to mark the anniversary of the MH17 air disaster over Ukraine, in which 298 people, including 39 Australians, died.

A plaque with victims' names has been unveiled in the gardens of Parliament House in Canberra.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed on 17 July 2014.

The West believes there is evidence the plane was hit by a Russian-supplied missile fired by pro-Russian rebels.

Russia denies this, blaming Ukrainian government forces for the disaster in the eastern Donetsk region.

MH17: What do we know?

Sunflower mementoes for the families

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Media captionJeremy Pocock talks about his son Ben, and what he hopes to hear from the investigation

Australian lawmakers interrupted their mid-year holidays to take part in the national memorial service in the capital.

A plaque with the names of the victims was set in soil brought back from the Ukraine by an Australian police officer.

Speaking at the memorial, held inside the Great Hall of Parliament House, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australians owed it to the dead to bring the guilty to justice.

"Their passing leaves a void that can never be filled and a pain that still throbs," he said.

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Media captionAustralian PM Tony Abbott unveiled a memorial to the victims of MH17

Mr Abbott said he was humbled by the way the families and friends of the people killed on the flight had coped.

"In the worst of times you have displayed the strength of giants and the grace of angels," he said.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten also addressed Friday's ceremony.

Those who attended the service pinned sprigs of Australia's national floral emblem, wattle, on a large wreath.

Image copyright AAP
Image caption Wattle branches were provided to families of the victims who attended the service

After the memorial, Mr Abbott met victims' families and friends.

A memorial service is also being held in the Ukrainian village of Grabove, close to where the plane came down, and in the Netherlands, where most of the passengers were from.

In the Dutch city of Nieuwegein, the names of all the victims will be read aloud by their family members.

In Malaysia, a memorial service was held in Kuala Lumpur on 11 July - because the anniversary of the disaster comes at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Each victim was named and then honoured with a moment of silence.

'Politicised coverage'

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected calls by the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Ukraine to establish a UN tribunal to prosecute suspects.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Mr Putin had "explained Russia's position regarding the premature and counter-productive initiatives of several countries, including The Netherlands, on the establishment of an international tribunal".

It also criticised what it said was politicised media coverage of the disaster.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Debris from the plane was scattered for miles around eastern Ukraine

A final report on the cause of the crash is due to be released in October by the Dutch Safety Board. The Netherlands is leading the criminal investigation and is being assisted by Belgium, Australia and Ukraine.

The Malaysia Airlines' passenger list showed flight MH17 was carrying 193 Dutch nationals (including one with dual US nationality), 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 10 Britons (including one with dual South African citizenship).